Facebook releases native share dialog for iOS developers, allows Open Graph sharing without login and permissions

iosFacebook today announced the availability of a new native share dialog for iOS, which will give developers an easy way to incorporate Facebook sharing — including Open Graph actions — in their apps.

The mobile share dialog is a standard tool that enables users to post something back to Facebook. Similar to the Like button, the share dialog can be implemented with a small amount of code across any app and it works even if users haven’t logged into the app using Facebook. The dialog includes support for location tagging, friend tagging, custom privacy settings, deep linking and more.

Previously, mobile developers would have had to program their own sharing mechanism with these features or use the old “feed dialog” or iOS 6 Share Sheet, which are more limited in functionality and can require up to three extra steps for users.


Unlike Share Sheet, the native share dialog supports Open Graph publishing, as seen in the “read a book” example to the right. This is important because until now, developers had to ask users to log into their app using Facebook and allow various publishing permissions, which some users did not like.

Now, because the share dialog opens up the main Facebook app to complete the action, users don’t need to log into a third-party app with Facebook in order to share back via the Open Graph. As long as users have the Facebook app and are logged into that, they can easily publish to Facebook from any iOS app that uses the share dialog. This could greatly increase the amount of structured sharing through Open Graph verbs and objects.

Facebook first announced the native share dialog, along with other new mobile platform features, in April. However, it was only available in limited beta for iOS until today’s wide release. It is still in development for Android. The company says the share dialog should be used by default in all mobile apps that want to enable users to share something to the social network, even if the apps don’t have deeper Facebook integration, such as login or Open Graph.

Facebook offers a detailed comparison of all of a developer’s options for sharing back to Facebook — including the new share dialog, iOS Share Sheet, web-based feed dialog and Graph API — here. Technical documentation on the native share dialog is available here.

Parse announces new hosting product less than 2 weeks after Facebook acquisition

parseParse, the cloud-based app development platform Facebook agreed to acquire in late April, today announced its latest product: Parse Hosting.

Parse Hosting enables developers to create a web presence for their app without having to manage their own servers or turn to another third party. Previously, Parse offered ways for developers to store their mobile app’s data in the cloud but didn’t host web apps or landing pages on the web for them until now. Parse says developers can deploy their web presence through Parse Hosting with only a single command.

Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar tells us that though the company has been focused on mobile first, many developers have a need for web hosting, and otherwise they have had to use yet another third-party platform.

“It’s a big piece of product infrastructure we’ve had a lot of demand for,” Sukhar says of Cloud Hosting.

The Facebook deal announced April 25 hasn’t closed yet, but the social network says it plans to keep Parse in operation. Sukhar says that the timing of today’s launch wasn’t planned as a follow-up to acquisition announcement, but that it is “symbolic” of the company’s focus on continuing to ship products.

“There are some folks that are a bit worried that the Parse platform will contract rather than expand,” Sukhar says. “I think this [launch] is evidence that Parse isn’t going anywhere.”

He says joining Facebook will allow Parse to grow more quickly in terms of hiring and innovation. Although Parse is a different type of acquisition than most Facebook has made in the past, which are typically for talent and not sustaining standalone products, Sukhar says getting to know the Facebook team and seeing their passion for the product made him confident that Parse would be at home under Facebook.

Currently, Parse has a free model, a $199 model and an enterprise level for its backend services, data storage, social integration tools and other features to make it easier for developers to build and scale apps across different platforms.

To learn more about this topic, join us at Inside Social Apps in San Francisco June 6-7. One of our Vendor Workshops is “Scaling Social Engagement With The Cloud.” SoftLayer Development Community Advocate Phil Jackson will examine what gaming, mobile and social media developers need to consider when building out their infrastructures, including how to deal with massive influxes of users – and what decisions need to be made to make it not only possible, but economical.

3,800 developers bought Facebook mobile app install ads driving 25M downloads

mobile-developmentFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on today’s first quarter earnings call that mobile app install ads were “one of most important new ad products” the company offers.

COO Sheryl Sandberg pointed out that 3,800 developers used the product to drive a total of 25 million app downloads in the App Store and Google Play. Forty percent of the 100 top-grossing apps for Android and iPhone have advertised on Facebook, Sandberg said.

CFO David Ebersman said that mobile app install ads actually lead to a lot of incremental revenue, as many of these developers are newly spending on the Facebook platform, not just reallocating existing budget to a newer format.

Read the full story on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

Facebook acquires Parse to offer mobile backend services for developers

facebook-parseFacebook today announced an agreement to acquire Parse, a cloud-based platform providing tools for mobile app developers.

Parse offers backend services, data storage, social integration tools and other features to make it easier for developers to build apps across different platforms that scale more efficiently.

Facebook is buying Parse outright, meaning this is more than the typical talent deals Facebook makes. Parse will continue to operate and offer its services. Currently, it has a free model, a $199 model and an enterprise level. The company says there are 60,000 apps integrated with Parse’s platform.

Facebook Director of Developer Products Doug Purdy wrote in a developer blog post today:

“We want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices. Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management, and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences.”

Parse is one of 10 recently named Facebook Technology Partners, which is similar to the Preferred Marketing Developer program, but focused on technical solutions for developers rather than marketers.

Parse says the deal with Facebook will not change existing customers’ contracts or affect their apps in any way. Parse apps will not be required to use Facebook functionality.

However, what Facebook can do with Parse is make it really easy for mobile developers to integrate its SDK and use Facebook login, Open Graph and other components of its platform. Basically a mobile app developer could potentially save time and money without having to redevelop their own app’s backend to access Facebook services. With this week’s acqui-hire of the team behind Spaceport — a cross-platform development framework — and now the Parse acquisition, Facebook seems to be making key moves to improve its mobile app platform.

Although Parse hadn’t disclosed its financials before it was acquired, selling backend services could be a new healthy stream of revenue for the social network, particularly as its revenue growth from games payments declines. It’s also possible that Facebook could make Parse available for free, making it more universal among developers so that it can get more of them building on their platform and buying ads. This could hurt others in the space such as Stackmob, Kinvey and Kii, which use a freemium model like Parse does currently.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

Facebook announces new mobile platform features to give app developers better tools

mobile devFacebook today announced a number of changes meant to improve the experience and increase the possibilities for mobile developers building apps that integrate with the social network. This includes new Open Graph APIs, a standard mobile share dialog, faster login and a Technology Partners program to help developers find third-party solutions that suit their needs.

One of the most significant developments announced today is the Object API, which allows mobile developers to create Open Graph objects without having to host corresponding webpages. Previously, applications had to serve data into Open Graph through web endpoints, so native iOS and Android apps weren’t able to build the same types of experiences or gain the same opportunities for distribution and discovery as web-basedd apps, unless they have the resources to build a web backend. Now this won’t be necessary and mobile or web apps can use the Object API for easier object creation.

Facebook is also introducing an object privacy model to allow objects that have custom or non-public privacy settings. This is especially important for some of the user generated content that comes from mobile apps. Web-hosted objects, on the other hand, have always had to be public. To help developers manage all their objects now, Facebook created a new “object browser” interface — seen below — that aims to organize developers’ objects in a more visual and intuitive way.


Facebook Home-coming day: HTC First hits stores; Android Messenger gets Chat Heads

home-in-handThe HTC First, a smartphone preloaded with Facebook Home, is now for sale from AT&T. Facebook also updated Messenger for Android to include support for Chat Heads, the feature debuted with Home last week. Home is expected to be available from the Google Play store later today.

Home is an Android homescreen experience that more deeply integrates the social network’s features into Android devices. It essentially eliminates the “lockscreen” as most people know it. Instead of displaying the time and perhaps some notifications, the screen fills with photos and updates from a user’s Facebook friends. Facebook calls this Cover Feed. Users can watch updates pan by slowly or quickly swipe through them manually. It’s possible to Like or comment on posts from this view.

We’ve been using Facebook Home for the past few days, and Cover Feed definitely feels like a better way to browse the latest posts from friends and pages. Switching back to the standard vertical scrolling feed with small images and text in the main Facebook app ends up being disappointing.


Continue reading on Inside Facebook.

Details emerge about Facebook ‘Home’ ahead of Android launch event

mobile devAspects of Facebook’s new product for Android appear to be leaking ahead of the company’s scheduled announcement this Thursday. The consensus from multiple reports is that the social network will release a modified version of Android, a phone by HTC and “Facebook Home,” software that any Android device can run to give users a more socially integrated homescreen experience.

Facebook hasn’t offered any information about these possible products except a press invitation that included the phrase, “Come see our new home on Android.” TechCrunch reports that Facebook has altered the Android operating system to build in more social functionality, including features from News Feed and Messenger. The New York Times also has sources corroborating this. The OS might not be a full Android fork, such as what Amazon has done for its Kindle Fire, as TechCrunch says Facebook scaled back its ambitions when some key team members left the company.

This modified version of Android is likely to be running on a new device by Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC, which has worked with Facebook in the past to integrate the social network into its devices. 9to5Google’s sources, who are involved with a marketing campaign for the new phone, say it includes a 4.3-inch display and an iPhone-like “home button” at the bottom center of the device, with horizontal function keys to the left and right.

AndroidPolice got access to a “system dump” for the upcoming release, which includes code and files that hint at what will be announced. The HTC phone, code-named Myst, has a special Facebook app that includes all the necessary permissions to operate as a homescreen app, also known as a “launcher.” According to the files, Facebook’s will be called “Facebook Home” and will include shortcuts to create posts and a chat feature called “Chat Heads” which will run continuously in the background.


There are pieces of code that suggest Facebook Home will be available for download on other Android devices besides the HTC “Myst.” Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android allows users to run third-party launchers. This matches TechCrunch’s suggestion that Facebook would not limit its homescreen experience to a single device and manufacturer.

InsideFacebook will be covering the social network’s launch event live from Facebook HQ on Thursday.

This story originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

Facebook to drop mobile bookmarks for all apps except cross-platform games

mobile-bookmarksFacebook will no longer display mobile bookmarks for apps unless they are games that function on both mobile devices and the desktop canvas, according to a post on the company’s developer blog. The change goes into effect June 5.

Bookmarks were likely not driving much traffic to most mobile apps so it wasn’t necessary to keep them around. However, Facebook wants to promote cross-platform game development so it will give them the benefit of mobile bookmarks. With fewer apps being included in the bookmarks menu, the few cross-platform games that do appear there could see more traffic than they were before.

‘Silent updates’ for Android download latest version of Facebook without Google Play

android-developmentFacebook is testing a new way for Android users to receive app updates without going through the Google Play store.

Some Android users are now receiving “silent updates,” which download in the background while a user is connected over Wi-Fi. Instead of users receiving a notification about a new app version through Google Play, the Facebook app downloads its update automatically and then prompts users to install it. A number of users report that the prompts are persistent and a user’s phone will beep or buzz until the update is installed.

Facebook says the silent updates are a way to “make sure everyone is using the best version of our app.”

Read the rest on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

Facebook announces Mobile DevCon series coming to New York, London, Seoul

mobile devFacebook today announced a new technical conference series for mobile developers to learn about incorporating Facebook into their apps and to connect with engineers and product managers from the platform team.

Mobile DevCon 2013 will take place in New York on April 18, London on May 2, and Seoul on May 7. The conference is free, but developers must apply to attend and space is limited. Facebook says this is a “highly technical event” that will dive “deep in product and code.”

Topics for the conference include how to implement Facebook’s mobile SDKs to drive installs and engagement, using Facebook Login, Open Graph best practices, creating social mobile games, design and product tips, as well as a look at the tools, libraries and techniques Facebook uses to build its own mobile applications. The company says insights from Fab.com, GetGlue, Zeebox, EyeEm and other mobile developers will be part of the agenda. At the end of the day, developers will have opportunities to speak one-on-one with Facebook employees about their apps.

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